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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Atrioventricular Reentrant Tachycardia

Most of the entries on my blog are not too personal. They almost always reflect personal thoughts or experiences, but I rarely write much about my private life. Today I was tempted to comment about the latest development in the calls for electoral reform by Alternattiva Demokratika (Malta's Green Party).

There's quite a bit to say about this, especially since AD has also applied for a TV station license. In doing this, AD has decided to fight fire with fire with regards to the most undemocratic situation where political parties take over terrestrial TV frequencies, for their own partisan political purposes. These frequencies should be used by private citizens and not by politicial parties. I am very passionate about this topic and I believe that one day soon there will be a revision of this situation, which is unique not only to the EU but also to most (if not all) other democratic countries.

Instead of all this, today I want to share with you something that is very personal. Something about my health: less than 24 hours ago I was diagnosed as having Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome. This was quite visible from an Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) test I had yesterday. The medical name for this heart condition is the title for today's blog entry.

WPW Syndrome involves an abnormality in the electrical system that normally tells the heart muscle when to contract. An extra electrical pathway in the heart acts as a short circuit. Impulses coming down this accessory route prematurely excite the ventricle of the heart, causing it to beat too rapidly and, sometimes, ineffectively.

Symptoms of WPW include palpitations, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, chest pain, fatigue, and a general feeling of unwellness. Most of these symptoms are due to the diminished amount of blood transported by the heart to the brain and other organs. I often feel some of the symptoms, particularly unpleasant sensations of irregular or forceful beating of the heart and dizzy spells. My doctor has instructed me to get an Echocardiogram as soon as possibe so we can take a look at the shape of my heart before we decide what to do next. I have an appointment for an Echocardiogram in two weeks.

Although medications that prevent abnormal rhythms were used extensively in the past, most specialists now recommend radiofrequency catheter ablation as the treatment of choice. This procedure destroys the abnormal electrical pathway. I've been told that in experienced hands radiofrequency catheter ablation can be performed safely with minimal discomfort. This involves placing wires in the heart using x-rays under local anesthesia. The wires are placed in various parts of the heart until the short circuit is found. The short circuit is then destroyed using radiowaves which cannot be felt and do not damage the rest of the heart.

A Normal HeartHeart with WPW Syndrome

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